By Ted Blanton Sr., President/CEO of North American Crane Bureau Group, Inc. In the world of mobile cranes, there are many factors to consider when making the decision as to which crane to use, rent or purchase. Before we delve in, let’s put to bed a few misconceptions about these cranes: 1. A 20-ton mobile crane should do the trick if the total load weighs 39,050 lbs. This could be true if the load to be hoisted was at the crane’s minimum radius and shortest boom length. However, if the load is going to be placed at a 40’ load radius and be configured with 90 feet of boom, then a maximum capacity of 20 ton would not be close to the needed crane capacity because a crane’s capacity generally lessens as the boom length and load radius increase. 2. The outrigger pads supplied with the crane are appropriate for all ground conditions. In reality, the outrigger pads supplied by the crane manufacturers are generally designed for ideal conditions, which seldom occur on any job site or manufacturing facility. 3. Rough Terrain (RT) Cranes and All Terrain (AT) Cranes are designed to hoist, lower and swing loads on outriggers, rubber tires, pick and carry configurations and uneven or off-level site conditions. Nothing could be further from the truth, both RT and AT cranes, like all other mobile cranes, are only designed to drive without a load over uneven surfaces to arrive at a site that has been prepared as the manufacturer stipulates in its operational instructions. Most instructions call for compacted soil, level within 1 percent and appropriate outrigger mats for the soil conditions and outrigger loadings. Keep in mind, mobile cranes differ in many ways, but they are all mobile. Some are highway legal and can transport themselves to jobsites, while others require a truck to transport them on roads. Even truck-mounted (TM) or AT cranes are considered heavy-duty trucks. Therefore, in most instances, they must comply with all regulations that govern large trucks on the highway.
  1. Make sure all overweight and width permits have been acquired.
  2. Use front and rear escort units when applicable.
  3. Check for any bridges and overpasses that are along the route to make sure the crane/truck meets height and weight clearances for each structure.
  4. Maintain all weight documentation required for weigh stations.
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